Remembering the 49 lives violently stolen in the Pulse nightclub shooting, five years on

Patrick Kelleher June 12, 2021
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Pulse nightclub shooting

A montage of the 49 lives lost in the Pulse nightclub shooting. (Twitter)

Five years ago, on 12 June 2016, 49 people were killed and 53 others wounded in a brutal mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Around 320 people were inside Pulse nightclub when a 29-year-old man entered the building with two guns at around 2am. The venue was hosting a “Latin Night” at the time, meaning most of those present were Latinx.

As the man opened fire, queer people inside the Pulse nightclub called and texted friends and loved ones appealing for help. And then, at 2.09am, a chilling message was posted to the venue’s Facebook page: “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.”

Shortly after five o’clock that morning, the gunman was shot dead. In the hours that followed, the world’s LGBT+ community woke to the devastating news.

Five years on, the mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub shooting remains the single deadliest attack on the LGBT+ community in the history of the United States.

The events of that night sent shockwaves through the LGBT+ community all across the world as news spread that 49 people between the ages of 18 and 50 had been shot dead.

In the years that have elapsed, families, friends and loved ones of those who died have worked hard to make sure that those who had their lives cruelly cut short will never be forgotten.

Each year in June, vigils are held in Florida to remember those who were lost. On Friday (11 June), 70 people gathered at the University of Central Florida where the names of the 49 people killed were read aloud.

Meanwhile, Equality Florida has planned a vigil for 7pm on Monday (13 June) at the Lake Eola Bandshell to show the world that the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre will never be forgotten.

LGBT+ organisations have also been working to remember all of those who were killed in the Pulse nightclub. The Human Rights Campaign is reflecting on the lives of those who were lost on social media, making sure the community never forgets their names.

Survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre have called for gun law reform

Survivors of the shooting have also used their voices to demand gun law reform in the United States in a bid to stop another massacre like Pulse from ever happening again.

Leonel Melendez, 43, opened up about the long-lasting effects of that traumatic night in an interview with the New York Post as the world marked the fifth anniversary of the shooting.

“I can’t hear on my left side and I use a hearing aid… I lost some of my vision,” Melendez said.

“I was pretty much a miracle – but my recovery has been long and hard.”

He added: “[Lawmakers] should make it so that not just anybody can own a gun. Gun control needs to be more strict.

“You should have to pass a background test and take a psychological test before you can own a gun. There has to be a better way, it should be more controlled. If there was more restriction on owning a gun this would have never happened.”

Lawmakers are also doing their part to ensure the victims of the shooting are never forgotten. The House of Representatives and the Senate have both passed a bill designating the nightclub as the “National Pulse Memorial”.

The bill has now been sent to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law imminently.

On the fifth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, we are sharing the names of those who lost their lives to ensure that they are never forgotten.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Antonio D Brown, 30
Darryl R Burt II, 29
Jonathan A Camuy Vega, 24
Angel L Candelario-Padro, 28
Simon A Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis D Conde, 39
Cory J Connell, 21
Tevin E Crosby, 25
Franky J Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Deonka D Drayton, 32
Mercedes M Flores, 26
Peter O Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan R Guerrero, 22
Paul T Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel A Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason B Josaphat, 19
Eddie J Justice, 30
Anthony L Laureano Disla, 25
Christopher A Leinonen, 32
Brenda L Marquez McCool, 49
Jean C Mendez Perez, 35
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Kimberly Morris, 37
Jean C Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Luis O Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Enrique L Rios Jr, 25
Juan P Rivera Velazquez, 37
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Christopher J Sanfeliz, 24
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Edward Sotomayor Jr, 34
Shane E Tomlinson, 33
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Luis S Vielma, 22
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald A Wright, 31


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